Chapter 4.0 Introduction to Material & Textures

Materials and Textures Overview
Materials and the textures used within them determine the appearance of surfaces within the world. They control not only the color of the surfaces, but also how each surface interacts with light by applying a chosen lighting model and blending mode. The lighting model determines how the light interacts with the surface and the blending mode controls how the surface being rendered blends with the rest of the scene.

Introduction to Material Editor
This section describes how to use UnrealEd's Material Editor. For a description of what the various material expressions do, see the Materials Compendium.

Materials Tutorial: Importing Textures and Creating New Material
The Material Editor is very powerful tool in the Unreal Editor suite that allows you to create a multitude of effects. Here you will see how to import textures and create a few basic material effects.

FBX Material Pipeline
The FBX pipeline has the ability to transfer materials and textures applied to meshes (both static meshes and skeletal meshes) in 3D applications into Unreal. Simple materials can be converted by importing the textures used in those materials, creating materials in UnrealEd with those textures hooked up to the appropriate channels, and then applying the materials to the imported meshes. This simplifies and streamlines the mesh import process by automating what used to be a tedious manual process.

Basic Unreal Materials
This tutorial gives a short visual guide to creating the common basic material types. These basic materials can often be used in combination with each other to produce a more complex material shader.

Material Examples

The types of surface effects that can be created with Unreal are virtually unlimited. This page is intended to be a quick-reference document for different types of material effects and commonly used or interesting material creation techniques in Unreal. These examples should provide ideas and insight into creating similar effects or completely new effects.

Landscape Materials
The Material system in Unreal provides some Landscape-specific expressions that allow for blending multiple material networks based on the weighting of the layers of the Landscape and controlling the UV coordinates mapping those networks to the Landscape. In addition, the full resolution normal map of the Landscape is available. These features make it advantageous to create materials for the Landscapes used in your levels.

Physical Materials
Creating a Physical material will give you a set of default values, identical to the default physical material that is applied to all physics objects. Physical materials are used to define the response of a physical object when interacting dynamically with the world such as a movable crate, etc.
See also

Material Instances
Material instances may be used to change the appearance of a material without incurring an expensive recompilation of the material. General modification of the material cannot be supported without recompilation, so the instances are limited to changing the values of predefined material parameters. The parameters are statically defined in the compiled material by a unique name, type and default value. An instance of a material can dynamically provide new values for these parameters with very little expense.

Material Instance Editor
The Material Instance Editor is used for modifying parameters for material instances.

Decals Projection and Decal Materials
Decals are materials that are projected onto other surfaces. These can be placed in levels to provide variation or "grunge", but they are most commonly used to create hit effects from weapon fire, such as scorch marks, or other impact-type events.

Material Compendium ( comprehensive Material Types )
Material Expressions are the building blocks used to create fully functional materials in Unreal Engine 3. Each material expression is a self-contained black box that either outputs a set of one or more specific values or performs a single operation on one or more inputs and then outputs the results of that operation. This section is a reference for all material expression nodes available in the material editor.

** Topics to Explore **
  • Material Masks ( using expressions )
  • Material Instance Constants
  • Material Instance TimeVaring
  • Terrain Advanced Textures ( Legacy documentation - but still an interesting read )

** Interesting GEMS **

Paralax Occlusion with Silhouette Clipping ( Material Instruction count is high )

Reflection Distortion using Rendering Targets

Instruction DVD and Downloads ( $$$ )

UDN  Video Training Modules ( $$$ )

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